Since he exploded onto the literary scene in 2007 with the publication of his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz has won countless honours and accolades. Along with the Pulitzer Prize, his novel topped a 2015 literary critics’ list of the best 21st century novels (so far).
Yet there are precious few of Diaz’s novels for book lovers to collect and sink their literary teeth into. His notoriously slow and laborious writing process is, according to the author himself, because he is his own worst critic, describing this as “a character defect”, which leads to him finding the actual act of writing “miserable”.
The pain that goes into his writing, however, may be what makes his works such a treat to read. The voices of Diaz’s narrative recall and reference countless cultural touchstones, from pop music and hip hop through historic and quasi-mythological allusions, through to the world of science fiction, gaming and comic books.
Described as “a nerdy New World Joyce” by some critics, Diaz’s swirling references in his writing have been referred to by critic and playwright Gregg Barrios as “a deft mash-up of Dominican history, comics, sci-fi, magic realism and footnotes” – all achieved through a unique voice that swings from street slang and profanity to incredibly formal academic prose.
So, while there may not be so many novels of his you can read, we’ve tried to collect together as many of his short stories as possible – so you can get your needed dose of Diaz. Below are links to seven of his stories that are available for free online, in both text and audio. Enjoy, comrades!
- “How to date a brown girl (black girl, white girl, or halfie)” (text, audio)
- “Miss Lora” * (The New Yorker, April 2012—text)
- “The Pura Principle” * (The New Yorker, March 2010—text)
- “The Cheater’s Guide to Love” * (The New Yorker, July 2012—text, audio)
- “Monstro” (The New Yorker, June 2012—text)
- “Wildwood” (The New Yorker, June 2007—text)
- “Alma” * (The New Yorker, December 2007—text, audio)